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When I used to direct my parent’s Love and Respect conferences, I would always hear the phrase, “If only I knew then, what I know now.” There is so much we can learn from hearing the stories and wisdom of those who have done marriage and relationships longer than us. Though everyone’s stories will be different, and while I don’t think there’s a formula to fit everyone’s definition of success, I believe we will all be the wiser for listening to what Trisha Davis has to say about her journey with Justin these first 17 years of marriage.
While I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Trisha yet, Justin and I were introduced at Catalyst this year. One of the things I take note of when I observe* people is how everyone else responds to them. I have a number of friends whose opinion I respect and everyone seems to love Justin and Trisha. Therefore, I’m excited to share them and their wisdom with you…
My husband Justin and I met in college in 1993 , started dating in January 1994 and were married in July 1995. We were age 20 and 21, respectively. We thought we knew everything about marriage because we were so in love. We weren’t going to struggle like other couples, because we loved each other more than other couples. Man, we were wrong!
We were clueless about marriage. But our story is a story of redemption and so we want to redeem our mistakes by sharing them with you.
So welcome to THE LIST! It is a list of lightbulb moments—things I wish I’d known before I got married. It is by no means exhaustive, but after almost 18 years of marriage my hope is that by sharing it with you, it will help you prepare for or grow in your marriage.
Justin and I got married young. For the most part we grew up in homes that, although dysfunctional, manifested love, and our parents loved each other. My parents separated two years after I got married and soon after divorced. It rocked the foundation of everything I knew marriage to be. I was naive to the real struggles my parents were facing and had to come to terms with my own brokenness. This fueled a very unhealthy fire in me to do everything “right” in MY marriage so that NOTHING would go wrong.
Have you ever looked at an elderly couple that still hold hands and look upon one another with complete endearment and wonder, “How do I get that?” What I have learned is that love is not an emotion but rather a choice. Love is not about choosing each other but rather a daily choice to choose God. When I love Justin through my emotions and feelings alone, I am left disappointed most of the time. But when I choose to love God and allow the Holy Spirit to prompt me in how to love Justin amazing intimacy takes place; the crazy kind of love that even in your old age makes you reach out for the hand of your spouse and with just a look communicate “I love you.”
Whether you knew a lot about sex going into your marriage or not, it’s one of the most confusing parts of marriage. Sex is not just about attraction, but a deep spiritual connection like nothing on the planet. It is as much a physical need as it is a spiritual need so why is it so hard to completely understand? Why is it that one seems to long for sex way more than the other? Why is that one seems to never long for it at all?
I wish I knew before Justin and I got married how a man’s body is designed. That sex is TRULY a physical need and not a selfish request. That sex is just as much about an emotional need as it is a physical need. But mostly I wish I understood the beauty and irreplaceable role sex plays in growing our marriage spiritually.
Justin and I were married for 4 months before I got pregnant with our son Micah. In fact, Micah was born 5 days after our one-year anniversary. We were learning how to do life as a team of two, and before we could figure that out, we quickly became a team of three! We both took claim of different areas of our marriage and decided that MY WAY was the BEST WAY. Justin held onto our finances with an iron fist and I was psycho-baby-momma that made sure Micah was taken care of the right way… MY WAY… at all times.
God has brought us together as a team, not as opposing sides. We learned to trust each other and accepted how each of us went about daily life. So I may have chosen to change Micah’s diaper sooner than Justin thought to. And maybe I didn’t balance the checkbook in a timely fashion as he did. In the end, those small details don’t matter! What matters is that we know that we are there for each other and that we are always assuming the best of each other … even when our best looks very different.
Justin and I are very open about the fact that he had an affair in the past. And because of this, our story would lead one to think that I have a right to fear that Justin will have another affair. Or that Justin should fear that one day I would eventually leave him because of his choices. This type of fearful thinking is so destructive. Fear says that you will not survive the fallout of losing your spouse, so live in suspicion in order to catch him/her when he/she messes up.
I am fully aware that in trusting I’m being vulnerable to being hurt (again.)
“I am for you” and “I am thinking the best of you”…not the worst.
I am going to love my spouse with reckless abandonment just as Jesus did for me when He came and died on the cross.
I will love my spouse without fear, but with hope that the Holy Spirit will guide me to love my spouse.
“God, I will love my spouse fearlessly, thinking the best of them at all times” and “If my spouse chooses to leave me, YOU will never leave me or forsake me.”
Which point on THE LIST resonated most with you and your experience?
What are some other points you would add to THE LIST of things you wish you knew before marriage?
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.